Smartphones

ROG Phone 3 has a super-secret 160Hz mode

Accessed with some debugging

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Recently, ASUS launched the ROG Phone 3, bringing out the best of today’s gaming segment. One of the phone’s highlight is the silky smooth 144Hz display. As you might have noticed, today’s smartphones are pushing the limits of refresh rates, packing in monitor technology into a phone-sized package. However, unbeknownst to consumers, ASUS is harboring a huge secret. Apparently, the ROG Phone 3 has a super-secret 160Hz mode.

Spotted by XDA Developers, the new gaming phone is hiding the heightened refresh rate inside its files. Normally, when you configure the display’s refresh rate in the Settings, you can access only the advertised options: auto, 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, and 144Hz. The hidden 160Hz isn’t available out of the box.

However, after a short debugging process detailed in the report, users will be able to access the 160Hz refresh rate from the same set of options. Notably, the process isn’t hacking the mode in. Rather, the option is already inside the phone’s coding. The process just opens it up again. This means that the 160Hz option was considered prior to the phone’s launch.

According to the report, the blazing fast refresh rate must not have made it past the testing phase. However, the option does work and doesn’t cause any huge problems for the phone after activation.

Of course, normal users might not find much use for the hidden setting yet. Currently, the ROG Phone 3’s 144Hz display is already pushing it, making gaming much smoother even in normal apps. It’s still nice that the ROG Phone 3 has a super-secret 160Hz mode regardless. Further, the hidden setting might hold clues to the industry’s eventual future.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ROG Phone 3 review: More than just a spec monster?

News

Samsung announces Exynos 2200 chip

Likely powering Galaxy phones of 2022

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Samsung’s newest flagship mobile processor has just been announced. It’s the Samsung Exynos 2200 and it comes with Xclipse GPU Powered by AMD RDNA 2 Architecture.

The new processor promises “ultimate mobile phone gaming experience, as well as enhancing the overall experience in social media apps and photography.”

Ray Tracing on mobile phones

The Xclipse GPU equipped on the Exynos 2200 boldly claims it will achieve accelerated ray tracing (RT) and variable rate shading (VRS) on mobile phones. These are high graphics features previously only available on PCs, laptops, and consoles.

Ray tracing is a rendering technique that uses rays of light to project images or objects onto your screen. These show more accurate, more realistic images as the rays trace back to any source of light in the surrounding. For more, read: The future for all games: Ray Tracing explained

Enhanced 5G and fortified security

The Exynos 2200 integrates a fast 3GPP Release 16 5G modem supporting both sub-6GHz and mmWave (millimeter Wave) spectrum bands. With E-UTRAN New Radio – Dual Connectivity (EN-DC), which utilizes both 4G LTE and 5G NR signals, the modem can boost the speed up to 10Gbps.

It also comes with Integrated Secure Element (iSE) to store private cryptographic keys as well as to play a role as RoT (Root of Trust). Also, an inline encryption HW for UFS and DRAM has been reinforced to have user data encryption safely shared only within the secure domain.

Better image processing

As with any brand spanking new chip, the Samsung Exynos 2200 also promises better image processing — moving or otherwise. It’s designed to support the latest image sensors for ultra-high resolution of up to 200 megapixel (MP). At 30 frames-per- second (fps), the ISP supports up to 108 MP in single camera mode, and 64+36 MP in dual camera mode.

It can also connect up to seven individual image sensors and drive four concurrently for advanced multi-camera setups. For video recording, the ISP supports up to 4K HDR (or 8K) resolution.

It decodes videos up to 4K at 240fps or 8K at 60fps and encodes up to 4K at 120fps or 8K at 30fps. he advanced display solution features HDR10+ adding more dynamic range and depth to the picture and offers refresh rates of up to 144Hz.

The Exynos 2200 is currently in mass production.

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Reviews

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G review: An all around wonder

Ideal for most users

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From the moment I picked up the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G, it’s been hard to let go. But I had a very different impression of the phone when it was just first announced. I thought it was boring and is just another cash-grab attempt by Samsung. Boy was I wrong. 

Spending roughly a little over two weeks with it, my opinion definitely shifted. From just another boring phone, the Galaxy S21 FE 5G started to look to me like the ideal smartphone for most users. 

Designed for optimal use 

The first thing that really caught my attention was when I first held the Galaxy S21 FE 5G. It felt… perfect. But really, the word I was looking for is ergonomic. It’s not too light and thin that you don’t feel like you’re carrying nothing. But it’s also not too hefty and  thick that it’ll put a strain on your hand if you hold it for too long. It feels like the sweet spot for most hand sizes.

The look also feels streamlined. Initially, I thought it was too simple. However, after prolonged use, it looked more sleek and subtle than plain and bland. If your taste skews towards minimalism, you’ll likely gravitate towards this phone’s design. It comes in Graphite, Olive, Lavender, and White so there’s a healthy selection of colorways.

It also felt durable. The ‘glasstic’ material used didn’t make me feel compelled to get a case while using it. You just get the feeling that it won’t break easily. It’s perfect for clumsy types who often drop their phones unintentionally. 

Our Associate Creative Producer did point out that the back can be a sweat magnet. Not encouraging for people with sweaty palms. Although, this might easily be addressed by getting a case anyway.  

Reliable performance 

Powered by Samsung’s Exynos 2100 chip, the phone didn’t leave me wanting in terms of performance. Over the course of my usage, it learned the apps I use the most and kept them active in the background. This means they load right from where I left them during instances that I switch from app to app. 

ONE UI 4 also felt smooth and snappy. Navigating the phone felt fast, but this has been the case with most flagship-level Samsung smartphones over the past 3-4 years. 

There’s a feature where you can open certain apps as if it was floating. Kind of like a chat head but for different apps. It worked on Telegram and Twitter during my time with the phone. It’s cool for quick glances, but I found it mostly annoying, but that’s just me. 

The sensors felt snappy, too. Whether it’s Face Unlock or the fingerprint scanner, the Galaxy S21 FE 5G unlocked pretty quickly. This is underrated as some smartphones still struggle with speed and consistency on this matter. 

Great for watching and gaming 

In line with its overall design, the weight also makes it easy to hold even for extended periods of time. That means interacting with and watching on the 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED display (120Hz, HDR10+) was extremely satisfying. 

I watched The Journalist and Single’s Inferno (Best girl 안예원 An Yea-Won deserved more screentime!) before bed on the Galaxy S21 FE 5G. Despite both shows having nearly hour-long episodes, I didn’t feel any strain at all holding the phone while watching. 

The display was also okay and usable under direct sunlight. The team didn’t completely agree on this matter so ultimately, it’ll likely come down to how sharp your eyes are. Our general advice is still to find a shade when you can. 

Like most other Samsung phones, the heating is still there especially when your playtime goes from minutes to hours. I recently decided to finally really play some Genshin Impact over the holidays. I ran the game and had a pretty desirable experience. No unnecessary lags or stutters for one of the most graphic heavy mobile games today. So, it’s safe to say your other games will likely perform well here too. 

Our Associate Creative Director did point out that the heating was prevalent even when you’re not gaming. Personally, I only experienced the heating while playing and charging. But there’ve been several instances of heating with Exynos-powered smartphones so it’s worth mentioning here. 

Battery life and charging

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G has a 4,500mAh battery and supports 25W fast charging, 15W fast wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging. 

I was most pleasantly surprised with the addition of wireless charging. It’s a feature I constantly look for in smartphones now. You also don’t have to use a Samsung power brick to take advantage of the fast charging speeds. Which is great if you’ve invested in a multiport GaN charger. 

So, how long does the phone last? Naturally, this depends on each person’s usage. But the three of us in the team who used the phone all felt like it drained pretty fast. You can mitigate this by turning off a few features, but a software update to address power consumption seems in order. 

Flagship-grade cameras

The phone has a main camera array featuring the following: 12MP main, 8MP telephoto, and 12MP ultrawide. It doesn’t have the extreme zoom capabilities of its S21 siblings, but it trumps them in the selfie shooter department with 32MP compared to the 10MP on the S21 and S21+. 

The selfies, by default, don’t apply too much filter. It’s just a healthy amount to make you look fresh while still looking like yourself. 

There’s also a wide-angle option so you can fit in more than one person in the selfie. 

The main cameras are fantastic. The images taken are flagship-grade. 

The ultra wide angle lens is a dream to use.

And even though the telephoto lens doesn’t have a high megapixel count, it still came out with some decent shots. 

Night shots are more varied. It’ll struggle when there’s very little light source, but with enough of them to go around, you still get detailed images.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is just a few notches off base flagship smartphones when it comes to pricing (US$ 699/ PhP 41,990/ SG$ 1,048). But the performance, design, and camera capabilities are all nearly at that level. 

The pricing might give you some pause. However, we’re 100 percent certain you won’t feel cheated once you start using the phone. It’s great all around and I’m comfortable calling it the best smartphone for most users as early as now. Granted, you might have to make sure you bring around a powerbank with you, but I’m willing to bet most people already do that anyway.

Personally, this is the first time since I reviewed the OPPO Find X3 Pro that I’ve been extremely satisfied with using a smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is an absolute joy to use and is a worthy buy even with new, more advanced phones on the horizon.

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News

All iPhone 14 models will have 120Hz screens, 6GB RAM

Pro will have a better camera, though

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Since the introduction of the four-model iPhone lineup, Apple has thrived under a simple and easy-to-read system. There are two premium Pro variants and two capable-but-not-as-premium non-Pro variants. It’s a tried and tested formula at this point. However, if a new rumor rings true, the upcoming iPhone 14 series might cause more confusion for discerning users.

According to a research note from Haitong International Securities analyst Jeff Pu (via MacRumors), the unannounced flagship series will launch with four models with each sporting the same specs. All four will have a screen with 120Hz refresh rate and 6GB of RAM.

Compared to the rest of the industry, both a 120Hz screen and 6GB of RAM aren’t specs to immediately blow a budget over. However, unifying the entire iPhone 14 lineup with identical specs does create a new zeitgeist for Apple.

The current iPhone 13 lineup maintains a steady delineation between Pro and non-Pro variants. Only the two Pro variants have Apple’s ProMotion (or a 120Hz display), for example. Likewise, only those two have 6GB of RAM. Unifying them might cause some confusion for users — at least in those particular areas.

Though the lineup might lose differentiation in those two aspects, the analyst does say that the Pro variants will get a few more features compared to their non-Pro buddies. Both Pro versions will come with an upgraded 48-megapixel rear camera and will start at 256GB of internal storage.

Right now, it’s still too early to approach the rumor with a substantial amount of credibility. The next iPhone series is still some ways away. Either way, it’s interesting to speculate on what Apple has in store next.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 14 will have a punch-hole camera, rumor says

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